List of Movies Concerning the History and Literature of the 19th Centuryby Sherrill777 | created - 28 Feb 2013 | updated - 03 Aug 2013 | Public
This list is designed to supplement the study of the 19th Century (1800-1900AD). It is by no means a comprehensive list, but I did try to find the 'best of' in every category.
To help find what you might be interested in here is a table of contents with topic (note that there is sometimes overlap): Napoleon & Regency Era (1800-1830) - 1 Europe in the Victorian Era (1830-1900) - 20 "Wild West" Folk-tales - 38 Early US History - 49 US Civil War - 70 1800s Literature -107 Far East (China/India/Japan) - 133 Australia - 144 Africa - 147
I tried to find as many documentaries/dramas/docu-dramas as I could find of this time period for both history and Literature, but some areas are simply very sparsely covered (like non-US/European history). I would very much welcome additions, if you can find something that fits.
My criteria for a movie/show to be included were that: 1) It had to fall within the historical time-frame given, 2) It had to receive at least a star rating of 6.0 from IMDb, 3) It had to be at least be theoretically possible to FIND the movie somewhere, such as on Netflix or Amazon.
I tried to find multiple age ratings for each category, but wasn't always successful. I have NOT watched most of the movies listed here, so cannot guarantee their quality or appropriateness.
*Parental Discretion Advised when selecting from this list*
Please see my other lists for other Historical periods or for simply a list of 'movies everyone should see'.
- Instant Watch Options
- Movies or TV
- IMDb Rating
- In Theaters
- On TV
- Release Year
1. Napoléon (2002)
380 min | Adventure, Biography, Drama
The year is 1816, and Napoleon, held prisoner by the British on the island of St. Helena, is telling the young English girl Betsy his life story. His meteoric rise to military prominence ... See full summary »
2. N (Io e Napoleone) (2006)
110 min | Comedy, History, War
Elba island, 1814. Martino is a young teacher, idealist and strongly anti Napoleon, in love with the beautiful and noble Baroness Emily. The young man finds himself serving as librarian to ... See full summary »
Also known as 'Napoleon and Me'.
3. Napoleon (2000– )
240 min | Documentary, Biography, History
Documentary about the rise and fall of one of the greatest military geniuses of modern times from his Corsican childhood to final exile in St. Helena.
Star: David McCullough
4-hour PBS mini-series. Also known as 'Empires: Napoleon'.
4. Napoleon and Love (1974– )
60 min | Biography, Drama, History
A dramatized account of Napoleon's love life and his many women. From first love, marriage, and betrayal with Josephine, liaisons with actresses, his love for the beautiful patriotic Marie ... See full summary »
5. Vanity Fair (2004)
PG-13 | 141 min | Drama
Growing up poor in London, Becky Sharp defies her poverty-stricken background and ascends the social ladder alongside her best friend, Amelia.
Votes: 18,345 | Gross: $16.14M
PG-13 | 138 min | Action, Adventure, Drama
During the Napoleonic Wars, a brash British captain pushes his ship and crew to their limits in pursuit of a formidable French war vessel around South America.
Votes: 180,547 | Gross: $93.93M
7. The Adventures of Baron Munchausen (1988)
PG | 126 min | Adventure, Comedy, Fantasy
An account of Baron Munchausen's supposed travels and fantastical experiences with his band of misfits.
Votes: 44,487 | Gross: $8.08M
8. Hornblower: Mutiny (2001 TV Movie)
240 min | Adventure, Drama, War
Hornblower and his comrades come under the command of a revered but obviously mentally unstable captain and eventually must mutiny.
There are a lot more Horatio Hornblower TV movies, but I only list this one.
9. Sharpe's Rifles (1993 TV Movie)
102 min | Action, Adventure, History
In the Peninsular War, a British sergeant is field promoted to a lieutenant in charge of a disrespectful rifle company.
There are a whole bunch more TV movies with 'Sharpe', but I only list this one.
10. War and Peace (1956)
PG | 208 min | Drama, Romance, War
Napoleon's tumultuous relations with Russia including his disastrous 1812 invasion serve as the backdrop for the tangled personal lives of two aristocratic families.
Votes: 7,552 | Gross: $12.50M
This could also be part of the Literature section, but I placed it here instead.
11. The Emperor's New Clothes (2001)
PG | 107 min | Comedy, Drama, Romance
During Napoleon's exile on St. Helena, some loyalists hire a look-alike to swap places with the deposed emperor. While the impostor lives in luxury on the island, the real Napoleon returns to Paris in order to retake the throne.
Votes: 2,259 | Gross: $0.57M
12. Waterloo (I) (1970)
G | 123 min | Action, Biography, Drama
Facing the decline of everything he has worked to obtain, conqueror Napoleon Bonaparte and his army confront the British at the Battle of Waterloo.
Votes: 6,674 | Gross: $3.05M
14. St. Ives (1998)
R | 90 min | Drama, Romance
In 1813, Capitaine Jacques St. Ives, a Hussar in the Napoleonic wars, is captured and sent to a Scottish prison camp. He's a swashbuckler, so the prison's commander, Major Farquar ... See full summary »
15. Les Misérables (1998)
PG-13 | 134 min | Crime, Drama, History
Valjean, a former criminal, has atoned for his past and now finds himself in the midst of the French Revolution, avoiding a law-obsessed policeman hell-bent on capturing him.
Votes: 34,271 | Gross: $14.10M
16. Les Misérables (2012)
PG-13 | 158 min | Drama, History, Musical
In 19th-century France, Jean Valjean, who for decades has been hunted by the ruthless policeman Javert after breaking parole, agrees to care for a factory worker's daughter. The decision changes their lives forever.
Votes: 266,840 | Gross: $148.81M
I highly recommend seeing the Broadway production of this, if possible.
17. The Count of Monte Cristo (2002)
PG-13 | 131 min | Action, Adventure, Drama
A young man, falsely imprisoned by his jealous "friend", escapes and uses a hidden treasure to exact his revenge.
Votes: 113,079 | Gross: $54.23M
This could also be placed in the Literature section.
18. The Count of Monte Cristo (1998– )
400 min | Adventure, Drama, Romance
The Classic tale from Alexandre Dumas. Edmond Dantes is unjustly sent to prison for 18 years. He escapes to reclaim his fiancée Mercedes and revenge against his nemesis, Mondego.
This version is much more faithful to the novel than the above movie, but this mini-series only has English subtitles.
19. The Enigma of Kaspar Hauser (1974)
Not Rated | 110 min | Biography, Drama, History
Herzog's film is based upon the true and mysterious story of Kaspar Hauser, a young man who suddenly appeared in Nuremberg in 1828, barely able to talk or walk, and bearing a strange note.
20. The Young Victoria (2009)
PG | 105 min | Biography, Drama, History
A dramatization of the turbulent first years of Queen Victoria's rule, and her enduring romance with Prince Albert.
Votes: 50,307 | Gross: $11.00M
This begins the section of the Victorian Era for Europe.
21. The Charge of the Light Brigade (1968)
PG-13 | 139 min | Drama, History, War
In 1854, during the Crimean War, poor planning leads to a British Light Brigade openly charging a Russian artillery position with tragic consequences.
22. The Impressionists (2006– )
"Three hour mini-series tells the intimate history of a most illustrious brotherhood of Impressionist artists - Monet, Degas, Renoir, Cézanne and Manet. Entirely based on documentary ... See full summary »
Any biographies of the various artists would work too!
23. Sissi (1955)
102 min | Comedy, Drama, History
In the first of a trilogy of movies about Elisabeth "Sissi" of Austria, the young vibrant princess catches the eye of her sister's fiancé, Emperor Franz Josef.
The first of several films of this royal's life.
24. Mountains of the Moon (1990)
R | 136 min | Adventure, Drama, History
The story of Captain Richard Francis Burton and Lt. John Hanning Speke's expedition to find the source of the Nile river in the name of Queen Victoria's British Empire. The film tells the ... See full summary »
Votes: 2,974 | Gross: $4.01M
25. Mrs Brown (1997)
PG | 101 min | Biography, Drama, History
When Queen Victoria's husband dies, she finds solace in her trusted servant, Mr. Brown, but their relationship also brings scandal and turmoil.
Votes: 11,916 | Gross: $9.22M
26. Victoria & Albert (2001 TV Movie)
200 min | Biography, Drama, History
The passionate love story that was Queen Victoria and Prince Albert's lengthy marriage. Beginning in 1837, the year of King William IV's death and 18-year-old Victoria's ascension to the ... See full summary »
27. Guiana 1838 (2004)
Unrated | 120 min | Drama
The abolition of slavery in the British Caribbean in 1834 prompts Gillanders, Arbuthnot & Company in Calcutta, a part of the East India Company, to recruit Coolies from India to fill the ... See full summary »
Votes: 57 | Gross: $0.23M
29. Cranford (2007– )
TV-PG | 469 min | Drama
In the 1840s, Cranford is ruled by the ladies. They adore good gossip; and romance and change is in the air, as the unwelcome grasp of the Industrial Revolution rapidly approaches their beloved rural market-town.
30. Anna Karenina (I) (2012)
R | 129 min | Drama, Romance
In late-19th-century Russian high society, St. Petersburg aristocrat Anna Karenina enters into a life-changing affair with the dashing Count Alexei Vronsky.
Votes: 78,713 | Gross: $12.82M
31. From Hell (2001)
R | 122 min | Horror, Mystery, Thriller
In Victorian Era London, a troubled clairvoyant police detective investigates the murders by Jack The Ripper.
Votes: 133,389 | Gross: $31.60M
32. Jack the Ripper (1988– )
TV-PG | 190 min | Crime, Drama, Mystery
A Scotland Yard police inspector, battling the booze, investigates the Jack the Ripper murders and discovers a conspiracy that leads all the way up to the queen.
33. The Leopard (1963)
PG | 186 min | Drama, History
The Prince of Salina, a noble aristocrat of impeccable integrity, tries to preserve his family and class amid the tumultuous social upheavals of 1860's Sicily.
34. Immortal Beloved (1994)
R | 121 min | Biography, Drama, Music
The life and death of the legendary Ludwig van Beethoven. Besides all the work he is known for, the composer once wrote a famous love letter to a nameless beloved, and the movie tries to ... See full summary »
Votes: 20,404 | Gross: $9.91M
35. The Four Feathers (2002)
PG-13 | 132 min | Adventure, Drama, Romance
A British officer resigns his post just before battle and subsequently receives four white feathers from his friends and fiancee as symbols of what they believe to be his cowardice.
Votes: 29,817 | Gross: $18.31M
37. Khartoum (1966)
Approved | 128 min | Action, Adventure, Drama
In the Sudan, in 1884-85, Egyptian forces led by a British general defend Khartoum against an invading Muslim army led by a religious fanatic, the Mahdi.
This doesn't technically take place in Europe, but I'm leaving it in this location on the list anyway since it doesn't seem to fit anywhere very well.
38. Tall Tales & Legends (1985–1988)
Comedy, Drama, Family
An anthology series that showcases various mythical characters and incidents throughout history.
This begins the section on "The Wild West Folk Tales".
39. Bunyan and Babe (2017)
PG | 84 min | Animation, Adventure, Comedy
Twelve-year-old Travis Barclay and his little sister Whitney are sent begrudgingly on a summer trip to visit their grandparents' farm in Delbert County. A greedy land developer, Norm ... See full summary »
40. Song of the South (1946)
Approved | 94 min | Animation, Comedy, Family
The kindly story-teller Uncle Remus tells a young boy stories about trickster Br'er Rabbit, who outwits Br'er Fox and slow-witted Br'er Bear.
Votes: 9,407 | Gross: $63.72M
This one may be impossible to find as a DVD, but you can catch parts (or all of it) on YouTube.
41. American Legends (2001 Video)
Not Rated | 57 min | Animation, Family, Fantasy
Consists of new narration by James Earl Jones, which is interspersed with the Disney shorts John Henry (2000), Johnny Appleseed (1948), Paul Bunyan (1958), and The Brave Engineer (1950).
A collection of shorts. Searching for them by individual title on Netflix may be useful.
42. Lonesome Dove (1989)
TV-14 | 384 min | Adventure, Drama, Western
Two former Texas Rangers renew their spirit of adventure as they and several other residents of a small Texas town join a cattle drive to the Montana Territory.
This is my token "Western" movie. Since there are hundreds of Westerns, I don't bother listing them all out, but if you like the genre, here during the pre- (and a bit of post-) Civil War era is the best time to watch them.
I suggest: 'Shane', 'Stagecoach' and 'High Noon' as the best choices.
43. The Mask of Zorro (1998)
PG-13 | 136 min | Action, Adventure, Comedy
A young thief, seeking revenge for the death of his brother, is trained by the once great, but aged Zorro, who also pursues vengeance of his own.
Votes: 147,028 | Gross: $94.10M
A superhero of the old West! - There was, of course, a TV series (and a movie sequel) if you prefer.
44. Maverick (1994)
PG | 127 min | Action, Adventure, Comedy
Bret Maverick, needing money for a poker tournament, faces various comic mishaps and challenges, including a charming woman thief.
Votes: 89,552 | Gross: $101.63M
Another one that's based off of a TV series.
45. The Lone Ranger (2013)
PG-13 | 150 min | Action, Adventure, Western
Native American warrior Tonto recounts the untold tales that transformed John Reid, a man of the law, into a legend of justice.
Votes: 197,707 | Gross: $89.30M
And another with a TV series...
46. Spirit: Stallion of the Cimarron (2002)
G | 83 min | Animation, Adventure, Family
A wild stallion is captured by humans and slowly loses the will to resist training. Yet throughout his struggles for freedom, the stallion refuses to let go of the hope of one day returning home to his herd.
Votes: 51,582 | Gross: $73.28M
This isn't a classic folk-tale or legend, but it is a nice movie to introduce the 'Wild West' to a young child.
47. Time Machine: Boone and Crockett - The Hunter Heroes (2001 TV Movie)
90 min | Documentary
Dual biographies of the legendary American frontiersmen Daniel Boone and Davy Crockett.
48. Davy Crockett: King of the Wild Frontier (1955)
Approved | 93 min | Family, Western, Adventure
Legends (and myths) from the life of famed American frontiersman Davey Crockett are depicted in this feature film edited from television episodes. Crockett and his friend George Russell ... See full summary »
There are several Davy Crockett movies. Since he was a real person, this may fit more with history than folk tales, but considering how historically inaccurate he is in these movies, I felt it was better to place him here.
49. Tombstone (1993)
R | 130 min | Action, Biography, Drama
A successful lawman's plans to retire anonymously in Tombstone, Arizona, are disrupted by the kind of outlaws he was famous for eliminating.
Votes: 105,425 | Gross: $56.51M
The line between folklore and history is a bit blurred here, but I'll place this as the start of the Early US history (despite the numerous bits of this film that are probably more legend than fact).
51. Pat Garrett & Billy the Kid (1973)
R | 122 min | Biography, Drama, Western
An aging Pat Garrett is hired as a lawman on behalf of a group of wealthy New Mexico cattle barons--his sole purpose being to bring down his old friend Billy the Kid.
52. Lewis & Clark: The Journey of the Corps of Discovery (1997 TV Movie)
TV-G | 240 min | Documentary, Adventure, Biography
The story of the most important American exploration expedition in American history and the participants in it.
54. How the West Was Won (1962)
G | 164 min | Western
A family saga covering several decades of Westward expansion in the nineteenth century - including the Gold Rush, the Civil War, and the building of the railroads.
Votes: 15,695 | Gross: $46.50M
55. The War of 1812 (2011)
120 min | Documentary
For two and a half years, Americans fought Against the British, Canadian colonists, and native nations. In the years to come, the War of 1812 would be celebrated in some places and ... See full summary »
56. First Invasion: The War of 1812 (2004 TV Movie)
Documentary, History, War
Elaborate reenactments are juxtaposed with comments by historians in this glossy review of America's "Second War of Independence" against Britain (1812-15). Included: the causes of the ... See full summary »
57. The Buccaneer (1958)
Approved | 119 min | Adventure, Drama, History
During the war of 1812, Louisiana buccaneer Jean Lafitte assists the Americans in defending New Orleans against the attacking British war fleet.
58. The Louisiana Purchase (2003 TV Movie)
50 min | History
The History Channel looks at the background of the Louisiana Purchase and how Thomas Jefferson's emissaries managed to double the size of the United States with the stroke of a pen.
59. The Emigrants (1971)
PG | 151 min | Drama, History
In the middle of the 19th century, Kristina and Karl-Oskar live in a small rural village in Smaaland (southern Sweden). They get married and try to make a living on a small spot of land. ... See full summary »
60. Amistad (1997)
R | 155 min | Drama, History
In 1839, the revolt of Mende captives aboard a Spanish owned ship causes a major controversy in the United States when the ship is captured off the coast of Long Island. The courts must decide whether the Mende are slaves or legally free.
Votes: 61,732 | Gross: $44.18M
61. The Alamo (1960)
Unrated | 167 min | Adventure, Drama, History
In 1836, a small band of soldiers sacrifice their lives in hopeless combat against a massive army in order to prevent a tyrant from smashing the new Republic of Texas.
Votes: 11,974 | Gross: $17.26M
R | 160 min | Biography, Crime, Drama
Robert Ford, who's idolized Jesse James since childhood, tries hard to join the reforming gang of the Missouri outlaw, but gradually becomes resentful of the bandit leader.
Votes: 148,671 | Gross: $3.90M
65. Geronimo: An American Legend (1993)
PG-13 | 115 min | Drama, History, Western
The story of the Apache chief and his armed resistance to the U.S. Government's subjugation of his people.
Votes: 7,291 | Gross: $18.64M
66. Centennial (1978–1979)
1,256 min | Action, Adventure, Drama
The economic and cultural growth of Colorado spanning two centuries from the mid-1700s to the late-1970s.
This mini-series covers a lengthy period of time (beyond the 1800s).
67. Bury My Heart at Wounded Knee (2007 TV Movie)
TV-14 | 133 min | Drama, History, Western
A historic chronicle based on the book by Dee Brown explains how Native Americans were displaced as the United States expanded west.
68. American Experience (1988– )
Not Rated | 60 min | Documentary, Biography, History
A series showcasing documentaries on American history.
Episodes cover many different aspects of American History. Relevenant here might be 'Dolley Madison' or 'Walt Whitman', but I would suggest browsing through the options.
70. The Civil War (1990)
TV-14 | 680 min | Documentary, History, War
A comprehensive survey of the American Civil War.
This begins the section on the US Civil War
71. Occurrence at Owl Creek Bridge (1962)
TV-PG | 28 min | Short, Adventure, Drama
In 1862, during the American Civil War, a Southern civilian is about to be hanged for attempting to sabotage a railway bridge. When the execution takes place from the bridge, the rope breaks and he begins his escape toward home.
72. The Outlaw Josey Wales (1976)
PG | 135 min | Western
A Missouri farmer joins a Confederate guerrilla unit and winds up on the run from the Union soldiers who murdered his family.
Votes: 55,447 | Gross: $31.80M
74. Drums in the Deep South (1951)
Approved | 87 min | Drama, History, Romance
Two old friends find themselves on opposite sides during the Civil War in a desperate battle atop an impregnable mountain.
76. Alvarez Kelly (1966)
Approved | 116 min | Western
During the Civil War, Mexican cattleman Alvarez Kelly supplies the Union with cattle until Confederate Colonel Tom Rossiter's hungry men force Kelly to change his customers.
77. Andersonville (1996 TV Movie)
167 min | Drama, History, War
The story of the most notorious Confederate prisoner of war camp in the American Civil War.
Also the 'Andersonville Trial' is a movie on this topic.
78. Band of Angels (1957)
Not Rated | 125 min | Drama, History, Romance
Mantha Starr grows up as a privileged southern Belle in the ante-bellum South but after her father dies broke, her world is destroyed when she discovers her mother was black.
79. Dances with Wolves (1990)
PG-13 | 181 min | Adventure, Drama, Western
Lieutenant John Dunbar, assigned to a remote western Civil War outpost, befriends wolves and Indians, making him an intolerable aberration in the military.
Votes: 204,755 | Gross: $184.21M
81. Cold Mountain (2003)
R | 154 min | Adventure, Drama, History
In the waning days of the American Civil War, a wounded soldier embarks on a perilous journey back home to Cold Mountain, North Carolina to reunite with his sweetheart.
Votes: 125,870 | Gross: $95.64M
82. Gone with the Wind (1939)
G | 238 min | Drama, History, Romance
A manipulative woman and a roguish man conduct a turbulent romance during the American Civil War and Reconstruction periods.
Votes: 240,422 | Gross: $198.68M
83. The Colt (2005 TV Movie)
80 min | Action, Drama, History
During the heat of battle in the midst of the Civil War, a beguilingly innocent colt is born to Union Jim Rabb's beloved mare. Refusing the orders to shoot it, lest it prove a hindrance, ... See full summary »
May be appropriate for a younger audience than most of these listed for the Civil War.
84. The Littlest Rebel (1935)
Approved | 73 min | Comedy, Drama, Family
Shirley Temple's father, a rebel officer, sneaks back to his rundown plantation to see his family and is arrested. A Yankee takes pity and sets up an escape. Everyone is captured and the ... See full summary »
This would be appropriate for a young audience.
85. The Hunley (1999 TV Movie)
94 min | Action, Drama, History
During the siege of Charleston of 1864, Confederate submarine CSS Hunley becomes the first submersible to sink an enemy warship in wartime.
86. Major Dundee (1965)
Approved | 123 min | Adventure, War, Western
In 1864, due to frequent Apache raids from Mexico into the U.S., a Union officer decides to illegally cross the border and destroy the Apache, using a mixed army of Union troops, Confederate POWs, civilian mercenaries, and scouts.
Votes: 5,893 | Gross: $0.01M
88. The Great Locomotive Chase (1956)
Approved | 85 min | Action, Adventure, Family
During the Civil War Union spy Andrews and his men volunteer to steal a Confederate train and drive it to Union territory while destroying the Confederate railway system along the way.
89. Gods and Generals (2003)
PG-13 | 219 min | Biography, Drama, History
The rise and fall of legendary war hero Thomas "Stonewall" Jackson as he leads the Confederacy to great success against the Union from 1861 to 1863.
Votes: 13,947 | Gross: $12.87M
90. Glory (1989)
R | 122 min | Biography, Drama, History
Robert Gould Shaw leads the U.S. Civil War's first all-black volunteer company, fighting prejudices from both his own Union Army, and the Confederates.
Votes: 108,408 | Gross: $26.83M
91. Pharaoh's Army (1995)
PG-13 | 90 min | Western
During the American Civil War, a Union Army captain leads his rag-tag cavalry troop up a misty creek to a remote farm to appropriate enemy (Confederate) livestock. The farm is worked by ... See full summary »
Votes: 493 | Gross: $0.05M
93. Race to Freedom: The Underground Railroad (1994 TV Movie)
91 min | Drama, History
A number of slaves risk their lives to escape their masters with their only help coming from the famous secret slave escape network.
94. Raiders of Ghost City (1944)
Approved | 225 min | Action, Adventure, History
During the latter stages of the Civil War, a gang of supposed Confederates, headed by Alex Morel (Lionel Atwill), raid all gold shipments destined for Washington from Oro Grande, California... See full summary »
95. The Red Badge of Courage (1951)
Approved | 69 min | Drama, War
Truncated adaptation of Stephen Crane's novel about a Civil War Union soldier who stuggles to find the courage to fight in the heat of battle.
98. Little Big Man (1970)
PG-13 | 139 min | Adventure, Comedy, Drama
Jack Crabb, looking back from extreme old age, tells of his life being raised by Native Americans and fighting with General Custer.
Votes: 28,897 | Gross: $31.56M
99. Shenandoah (1965)
Approved | 105 min | Drama, War, Western
During the Civil War, a Virginia farmer and his family vow to remain neutral but one of the sons is captured by Union soldiers, sending the farmer to his rescue.
100. Sherman's March (2007 TV Movie)
Documentary, History, War
This documentary chronicles General William Tecumseh Sherman's fabled "March to the Sea" through Georgia and the Carolinas, utilizing state of the art production techniques including CGI, special effects and historical re-creations.